The Buccaneers are 2-6 at the halfway point of the season. What started as a season filled with expectations with the arrival of Bruce Arians as head coach and Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator has left Bucs fans disappointed and looking ahead to 2020.
This will be the 11th consecutive year that the Bucs have missed the playoffs, one of the longest droughts in the NFL.
Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst moments of the Buccaneers at the midpoint of the 2018 season.
Best offensive player: It is a tie between wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Imagine where this team would be without either one of these players.
Evans has 378 yards receiving yards the last two games and is on pace to have his sixth consecutive 1,000 yard season. Evans will join Randy Moss as the only NFL player to start his career with six straight seasons of 1,000 receiving yards.
Everyone was anticipating that Chris Godwin would have a breakout season and he has not disappointed. Godwin is the Bucs leading receiver with 54 catches, 766 yards, and six touchdowns.
This duo is one of the best in the NFL and will only get better with time.
Best defensive player: Linebacker Shaquill Barrett. This should not even be open for debate. Barrett began the season with nine sacks in four games, a forced fumble, and an interception.
Opposing offenses have now adjusted their scheme to slow down Barrett, but he still leads the league with 10.5 sacks at the halfway point.
With the return of Jason Pierre Paul, that is going to create more opportunities for Barrett and the sack totals should continue to increase.
Biggest Bust: Wide receiver Breshad Perriman. The good news is that Perriman is on a one year contract. The bad news is that this is just another long line of poor free agent signings by General Manager Jason Licht. Perriman was signed to take the place of DeSean Jackson and has really struggled to get on the field and show consistency when he has been given an opportunity to play.
Perriman was signed for four million dollars and has spent most of the season injured. Perriman has seven receptions for 58 yards and one touchdown. Four of those catches came in the loss to Seattle last week.
Best rookie: Linebacker Devin White. Finally healthy, these last two games we have seen what White can contribute to this defense when healthy.
White has 12 tackles in each of the last two games and is fourth on the team with 35 tackles despite missing three games.
White will also be one of the nominees for defensive rookie of the year.
Most improved: Wide receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin has shown that he is on his way to becoming an elite receiver in the league and is on pace to have his first 1,000 yard season in his career.
He is the leading receiver on the team with 54 catches, and has been able to take away a lot of the double teaming of Mike Evans. Godwin should be a key contributor in this offense for years to come.
Biggest Impact: Linebacker Shaquill Barrett. Where would the defense be without the play of Barrett? His 10.5 sacks lead the league and with teams putting two guys on him, that has freed up other players like Carl Nassib, and Jason Pierre Paul to make plays.
Biggest disappointment: Vernon Hargreaves. The expectations were high for Hargreaves coming into this season to show some leadership and be that veteran in the room for the young secondary.
Hargreaves best game came in game two against Carolina when he had 12 tackles and made a game winning tackle. Hargreaves seems to be caught in the wrong position in his pass coverage and has not made a big play on defense since the game against Carolina.
Hargreaves has 35 tackles in eight games, with 12 coming in one game. He also has one interception returned for a touchdown in the opener against San Francisco.
Other mid-season grades:
Coaching C- Poor clock management and play calling during the last two minutes of games has been inexcusable for leaving many of us scratching our heads.
Running Game B- With Ronald Jones getting the start and more touches that should help get the run game going.
Quarterback play: B- If not for the turnovers and some poor decision making by Winston, this grade would be higher.
Wide receivers: A+ You cannot ask Evans and Godwin to do any more. After those two, a huge drop off in production and talent.
Offensive Line: D+ they have allowed 30 sacks, and have been dominated routinely by the opposing defensive line.
Defensive line: B+. Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh have gotten pressure on the quarterback, just don’t have the sacks to show for it.
Linebackers: A- Shaquill Barrett, Lavonte David and Devin White have been outstanding all season long. This group is the heart and soul of the defense.
Secondary: F The secondary is just as bad or worse than what we saw last year. Playing three and four rookies at times doesn’t help matters. The best player in that group has been Carlton Davis. This group has also been hit hard by injuries forcing the Bucs to give extensive playing time to the rookies.
Special Teams: Kicking game would get a B+. Matt Gay has done a good job despite missing two field goals and two extra points.
The return game gets an F for the first five games, but since TJ Logan took over the return duties, the grade improves to a B as Logan has been able to get some nice yards returning punts.
Here are where the Bucs rank offensively and defensively at the halfway point of the season:
Scoring Offense: 4th (28.8 ppg)
Total Offense: 13th (376.6 ypg)
Passing Offense: 7th (277.4 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 19th (99.3 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: 7th (22.8)
Third-Down Pct.: 20th (38.1%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 27th (9.77%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 16th (60.0%)
Scoring Defense: 28th (27.9 ppg)
Total Defense: 23rd (371.6 ypg)
Passing Defense: 31st (293.5 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 1st (78.1 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-27th (22.4)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 11th (35.3%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 24th (5.83%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 25th (61.3%)
Turnover Margin: 26th (-5)